How China’s vaccination miracle feeds global wellness

Covid-19 vaccine

A woman receiving the Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province on June 20, 2021.

Photo credit: AFP

China has now administered over one billion Covid-19 vaccines doses, with 500 million doses administered in just one month

China has now administered over one billion Covid-19 vaccines doses, with 500 million doses administered in just one month. Beijing now leads the world both in terms of speed and volume of vaccines administered, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the total inoculations globally. This admirable milestone mirrors the earlier pandemic control measures taken by China.

From the decision to lockdown Wuhan; described as the most comprehensive in human history, China also led the world in terms of the number of people tested and treated for the virus on a daily count.

High capacity hospitals were erected in just ten days with huge information and human resources mobilized to help Wuhan turn the tide. This paid off when the number of infections and deaths that stood in thousands trickled down to hundreds then tens and finally zero in just about five months.

China’s impressive vaccination drive can be attributed to a number of factors. A strong people-centred leadership by the Communist Party of China has seen the state engage in a comprehensive drive towards vaccinating 40 per cent of the population by end of June 2021.

Product diversification

 While the threat levels in China are comparatively low, the people’s trust in government led programmes has seen more Chinese nationals enlist for the jab. China has also leveraged its strong technological and industrial capacity – enabling Chinese vaccine companies to manufacture millions of the essential commodities on a daily count.

A strong push for firm and product diversification in which China is not just relying on one company or vaccine product, has equally helped fuel healthy competition at firm level leading to higher industrial output.

China’s massive vaccination campaign at home has real life implications abroad. First, when China achieves herd immunity, it means Beijing will have enough headroom to assist other countries to overcome the pandemic through supply of vaccines.

 The world has witnessed just how perilous it is to rely on countries with weak pandemic responses, to supply vaccines. India, which was the main source of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines for developing countries through the Covax facility, was forced to ban export of the vaccines as Delhi raced to cushion its population from a deadly wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar episodes of vaccine hoarding by other nations producing the commodities were also a result of active threat of Covid-19 in their own backyards.

On the other hand, the initial slow pace of rolling out domestic vaccination in China was largely a result of the decision by China to prioritise other more vulnerable countries. China has so far engaged in vaccine aid through donations and direct purchases to over 120 countries around the world. In Africa where Beijing currently ranks as the largest provider of Covid-19 vaccines – eclipsing other players like the Covax facility, over 40 countries have so far received Chinese vaccines.  

Global health crisis

Secondly, as the most enduring solution to the global health crisis, mass vaccination will ensure that China’s productive sectors continue to operate uninterrupted. This is important given that China today accounts for 30 per cent of the global economy and is expected to contribute over 20 per cent to global economic growth during the 2021-2025 period. So a stable China is an incentive to the world economic wellness, particularly at this time when economic recovery remains a priority for all countries and territories.

Thirdly, as the largest developing country, vaccination success in China frees up substantial resources from development partners that could then be dedicated to solving the challenge of inoculation in other developing countries.  Africa with a population in excess of 1.2 billion people has experienced stagnated vaccination pace.

 So far just 0.8 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated compared to 70 per cent in North America and 61 per cent in Europe. More countries across the continent are reporting emergence of more transmissible and deadly virus variants that are fuelling new Covid-19 waves.

It is therefore incumbent on well-meaning international actors to harness existing potential towards upstaging this pandemic. China is setting a good example, and should be emulated.

Twitter: @Cavinceworld.